Sorry for not writing more. The experiences are just too numerous and I’m so busy having them!
Here is my hand written diary entry from last night, while camped out in a tent by the “kraal”, corral, with the herd, on the field, under the full moon.
My last night here. Full moon. Camping with the herders.
Two nights in a row now. Final two. Discovering myself.
Military style tent. Dry season. Completely open. No bugs. No mosquitoes. Just the dirt.
The three little dogs bark at anything that gets their attention. They’re the best night watchmen. Growling now at who knows what, a jackal, kudu, warthog.
There are lions about. The night watchman asked me if I herd it. No, I said. Where you sound asleep? Probably, I said. What time, I asked. 4:00 AM, he says. No, I was asleep, I say. Although I went out at 4:30 AM to relieve myself. (The stupid roosters had already started). It was still dark with the full moon casting its ghostly essence over the dry bush. I didn’t need my torch (flashlight). In fact, that only makes seeing worse.
We walked out here from the main campus without once turning it on.
I never felt more alive. Walking under the full moon, in the savanna, in the dry season, the warm African breeze dissolving time.
There is no time here. Time is a human construction, an arbitrary dissection of the continuum.
There is only sun and moon, and heat and dirt and animals, and dung and urine, and grass, and trees, and crickets, and ants and spiders, and people in dusty cloths with big smiles, and women with babies wrapped on their backs, and buckets of water, and jeeps with radios, and the occasional herd of something, and stories of great game, and hunters from overseas, and adventures and tragedies, and a world, like Narnia, that used to exist, but now only echos through relics.
My last night here. I should have stayed in the bungalow and did a million things in preparation for tomorrow – copy over computer files, notify my credit card company, and, oh yeah, pack!
But no. I had to have one more night in the savanna, under the moon, in the vented canvas tent, feeling the night breeze roll through while being serenaded by 500 ruminants just meters away, making soil, reversing desertification, and countering climate change.
I came seeking a hut with a view of the future, but I’ve found that from this burlap enclosure, I can feel it.
Is there a price to pay to step out of your tent and be under the full moon and stars of an African sky, and not be on a tour with a guide, but among local herders?
What would we pay?
What is the cost of salvation?
I left a gift and note for one of the young herders who befriended me – setting them outside his tent, under a rock. He is 19 and has been a herder for three years. His name is Knowledge.
The tree watch dogs greeted me, but did not bark, as that would have woken everyone, and now they knew better.
It’s 5:30 AM. The moon is still out, but it’s getting light. I’m walking home.